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Ofilispeaks: 7 Things You Must Do Before Writing Your Book

OfiliSpeaks

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One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am a full time engineer working a typical 9 to 5 job. But despite the craziness of corprate life, family life and running 2 entrepreneural ventures I have been able to complete 2 books within 24 months. And if you cull anything from the title of my next book How Laziness Saved My Life, it is that I am one of the laziest people in the world (I kid I kid). I really like finding the most optimal way to get things done and one of them was how to write a book despite a crazy and busy schedule. But after meeting many authors with unpublished manuscripts (I once met a girl that had 5 completed manuscripts but no book), I realized that the greatest obstacle to writing is not the writing itself but rather the mental approach to writing. So based on my 2-book writing experience I came up with a list of things that everyone who has ever dreamt about writing a book should do. It is called 7 Things You Must Do Before Writing A Book.

NOTE: You might still bot believe, but writing is one of the least important things in writing a book.

“Surveys show that 80% of people want to write a book in their lives, but only very few people get to realize their dream of writing.”

#1 Tell Everybody You Are Writing A Book

I mean everybody. Your co-workers, your parents, your ex-girlfriend(s), your teachers, facebook…everyone! I know this might seem a little bit pompus at first. But trust me…it works and here is why. When you tell people you are writing a book, it puts pressure on you to actually get it done. Your book is no longer stuck in your head where it is prone to excuses and nonchalance but is now stuck in the minds of other people. And this helps drive you to completion, because everywhere you go people would ask you how your book is coming along and this serves to push you hard to get it done. I remember once when I was slacking on my first book, I attended a party and some individual asked me how my new book was coming along. I bluttered out a few excuses that I can’t remember. But that experiencing jolted me and that night (same night) I completed an entire chapter. So tell everyone, the more people the better.

HINT: For months I called myself soon to be published author of __________ even though I had not put _____________ on paper. Do the same.

#2 Design Your Book Cover

If you thought telling everybody about the book was crazy. Then skip this step, because it is about to get crazier. The single most important step of completing your book, is designing the book cover before you write anything! This step is so important  that I created a supplemental video to explain SEE VIDEO

Simply put, designing your book cover (nothing fancy) is a very important step in writing your book. Some might scoff at the idea, but trust me it works. When you design your book cover, you have created a mental image of the book in your mind. Your book becomes even more palpable and more of a reality. If you have a picture of yourself that is even better! But you would also need to show people the book cover you have designed (see step #1 to know why). Post it on facebook, twitter, your companies restroom , your website and any place you can find. One of the crazy things I used to do when I was writing was carry the A4 design of my quasi book cover to the local Barnes Noble bookstore in Houston. I would place it on the cover of a book and just visualize my books on the shelf, like the above step this motivated me to get my writing done. Which brings me to step #3

#3 Steal A Book

OK OK not literarily. If you get arrested you are on your own! But you would need to find a book that is closely written in a style of writing that is quite similar to yours. This is simply a book written by another author  that writes like you. This is not to be confused with your favorite author. My favorite author for example is Malcolm Gladwell, but his writing style is too complicated and detailed for me. Simply put we write very differently. The book I found that worked for me was IGNORE EVERYBODY written by Hugh Macleod. This is an author that writes in a very light (short for non complex)  and funny style. His books are not biblically long but are interesting enough to stress the point. I studied his book for weeks, looking at how he laid out his chapters and transitions. And when I felt discouraged about the direction or potential success of my book…I found myself getting encouragement from my stolen book. Steal a book. If you still feel nervous about stealing then check out The 8 Things That I Stole.

NOTE: The first 3 steps are probably not what you expected…but trust me….it will all make sense. The greatest obstacle to writing a book is not writing, I have met people at book readings that have 3-5 manuscripts and no books. The obstacle is quitting, fear of book acceptance and an inability to visualize their book.

#4 Pick A Crazy Title that Makes People Say huh!

One of the greatest crimes to commit is to write a book with a boring title! Unfortunately, I cannot put people in jail for that…but if I had my way I will. But I digress…you want to pick a book title that makes people say “huh” everytime you say it. Imagine being approached by a stranger and he asks you the name of the book you are writing. You respond and he says OK and walks off. But then imagine again, you have a crazy title…a stranger asks you what you are writing and you say “How the moon caught fire” or “How Great Ideas Have Sex” and he says “huh” or “tell me more about it” or “that sounds interesting.” Imagine what that does for your esteem? Like the above 4 it pushes you to get the book done, because people are already excited about the title. This inevitably would excite you about your title and book ultimately. So pick pick a crazy title. Don’t worry about it being final…if you are anything like me, you would go through 3-4 crazy titles before settling on one that is super crazy like How Stupidity Saved My Life.

WARNING: Your title needs to go with your book theme/story…picking a crazy title is easy, but picking one that works with your theme/story is quite key.

#5 Define Your Book Theme

In one sentence…can you describe your book.

If you get stuck in an elevator with the CEO of that big publishing company, can you describe your book before he gets to his floor, without stuttering? Once you are able to achieve this…then you have created an important foundation that allows you to write with purpose.

#6 Blog Blog Blog

This step is the only reason I will be able to publish at least 2 books in my life. And it is simply because of the power of blogging.
Several years ago I completed a report for my company in less than 2 months, largely because I had to get it done or get fired. But the fact was that I had accidentally completed a 30,000+ technical book without knowing it (the average book contains about 30,000 words). This led me to write this article How To Write A Book Without Writing.

Many people have written numerous books in their lifetime but don’t realize it. For example, if we accumulate all the comments and articles we have written on our blogs, we would see that we enough words for a book. However, they have no form as there is no unifying theme combining our words together. This is why step #5 define your book theme is very important. With a theme for your book you can blog with purpose.

For my second book, I knew that I wanted to write a book on entrepreneurship and business. So my blogs revolved around entrepreneurial/business success tips. I put myself on a strict and disciplined regimen of writing at least one 1500 article every month. I did this unfailingly starting January of 2011 and at the end of the year, I had 20+ quality articles chapters and over 25,000+ words in my book. All based around the theme of business and entrepreneurial success (not to mention 20+ cartoons and sketches). After a little bit of cleaning up I was able to complete a manuscript.

“One of the other advantages of blogging is that you get the oppurtunity for instant feedback.”

That above is the power step to completing a book despite having a busy schedule. However, the first five steps are critical in getting you there as they mentally prepare you, because blogging an entire book requires time, dedication and discipline. But as long as you stay focused on a blog schedule, follow all the steps above and write at least a chapter or more a month you are very well on your way to completing your book.

Some example of people who have written their books from blogging include Seth Godin, Bola Essien-Nelson and Hugh MacLeod. So what are you waiting for?

Step #7

The last and final step is to read soon to be published “How To Publish A Book In 2 Months” and “How To Market Your Book With Social Media” which ironically I have not written yet. But like step #1 above states, by mentioning this on a public blog I hope to put pressure on myself to get these 2 articles done or face the wrath of

Ofili is an award winning motivational speaker, author, success coach and entrepreneur who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on BB pin:32A137F8twitter , facebook or subscribe to his blog for more success TIPS!” His latest book is titled HOW STUPIDITY SAVED MY LIFE, to find out how it saved his life click ofilispeaks.com/read-book

Okechukwu Ofili is a trouble maker, the author of 4 books and speaks at organizations that are tired of hearing the same old stuff and want the truth. He is also the founder of okadabooks.com and blogs daily at ofilispeaks.com You can follow him on Twitter or stalk him on Instagram You can also read his funny books on konga or okadabooks

74 Comments

  1. Chiedu Ifeozo

    February 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Great article man, enjoyed reading it. Certainly worth sharing 🙂

  2. Michael

    February 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Am already a huge fan of works,even withou seeing dem yet! Your ‘hints’ or ‘steps’ are truely inspiring and worth following. Am presently on my lappy,wrting a book,and i’ve averaged twenty one thousand words already. I hpe u get this post,and i do hope,sincerly,dat u reply me.

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      I did get it Michael. Glad you are trudging along already. What is the title of the book…hope it is something crazy =)

    • Michael

      February 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      Something to keep u turning d pages of the book. I sent u a fb request. Pls, i just might need a publisher very soon and ur help wl be duely appreciated.

  3. chinwe

    February 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Great ideas Ofili!

  4. Toin

    February 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Simple but true. I love those tips

  5. Nengi

    February 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Definitely, this can’t work for fiction writing

    • Funmi

      February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Visualising your goal can work in any areas of your life. I agree that the “steal a book” idea cannot work for fiction because that comes from within but the rest can work.

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Actually it can work for fiction. Even the steal a book idea, like I said you are not replicating the book, just following the writers set-up and character development style. Plus I know authors who have blogged fictional series intermittently till completion of their book.

  6. Nengi

    February 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    And Ofili, no disrespect to you but this is why i don’t like reading or listening to motivational speakers. They tend to impose their ideas on you as if that is the only thing that can work. What do you mean by ‘7 things you MUST do’. So if i don’t do these things, then i can’t write a book. A famous writer that i know of never told anyone she was writing a book, not even her family members until it came out, and now she is a best selling author. Different things work for different people and for me, none of these steps count. I’m just about to get my book published and i NEVER followed any of these steps. In fact, they were the very things i ran away from.

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      Don’t get carried away with the word “must”, there are ample examples (in addition to the one you gave) of people who did not use any of the methods above and have published best best sellers…Malcolm Gladwell, Chiamanda Adichie and many more. If you want you can replace the MUST with COULD if that helps out, it was simply written to help people out and not impose a direction on them. If that what the title does then apologies.

  7. Tobi

    February 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    This is so helpful, Sure i learnt something new. You the best!

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Glad to hear that Tobi.

  8. Lue

    February 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    nice!!!!!
    now lemme start doing it.
    I AM WRITING A BOOK!!!! lol

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Well then hurry up! =P

  9. Fedex Kinkos

    February 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    at ur command i am posting a comment…lol

    well done boss boss… step#7 is my fav!

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm

      lol…appreciate the forced support.

  10. iNyamu's

    February 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this. I’ve been doing five of the points raised here, without knowing i was helping myself :)… although i still kind of stutter when i have to give a short definition of the book, but I’m working on that. Telling people i am writing one has put me under pressure to complete. Blogging has been one of the best things I’ve done… if i didn’t start a blog, i would never have dreamed of publishing, or well maybe i would, but it’d have seemed more far fetched to me, the support and feedback gives more than a little boost to me that i really am good.

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm

      That’s cool. Do you mind sharing your blog link?

  11. Aisha

    February 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    You are truly motivational, Ofili. Keep up the good work.

  12. Tiki

    February 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    You had me from Step 1 – I like! Unfortunately I just can’t find the time to write anything worth reading, but when I do, I know where I’ll b getting tips from! Kudos man…

  13. Leif G.S. Notae

    February 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Good stuff, can’t agree more myself on these steps. Sometimes getting it out there is the only way to manifest what will happen in the future. I look forward to giving these a go myself and see what happens next. Thanks for sharing!

    • ofilispeaks

      February 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Your quite welcome…let me know how it progresses for you =)

  14. Bani Productions

    February 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I disagree on telling everyone you are working on a book. Yes, the constant questions will compel you to finish but I find that it can also derail you. If you are working on a self-help/opinion piece, then possibly that is fine. But if you are a fiction writer, I think you follow a different process to put your words out.
    Also, I think your suggestions are better suited for those looking to self publish. Yes?

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Different things probably work for different people. I know 2 authors who are publicizing their fictions books via blogs and I know it can work for both types of books.

    • Nengi

      February 3, 2012 at 6:59 am

      If you know that different things work for different people, why don’t you write about the different things that work for different people. Or have you seen Chimamanda blogging before? A good book would sell itself even without going on the internet, shoving your ideas down people’s throats and persuading them to buy. Creative writing requires a much different process than these steps you’ve mentioned. I could write a motivational book in one week if i wanted to, self publish it and then Bam! i’m an author abi?

  15. chinco

    February 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    This guy Ofili ehnnnnn, u r just brilliant!!! I’ll follow u on twitter. But I noticed u failed to mention writing something with public interest(not just a personal interest) well maybe that’s another topic entirely. Love ur write ups though.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 2, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Can you clarify the difference between public and private interest? Not too sure I understand.

  16. Edenweze vic

    February 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    nice job men! May be its time to finish my 2 abandoned books,thanks for the hint!

  17. grolit

    February 2, 2012 at 4:54 am

    this indeed is coming at the right time. I been brooding the idea for over three year now, just can’t sit down to crystallize and streamline my concept. Please can you suggest a forcible, eye-catching book title with the word: ‘Determination?’ I believe it will go a long way to help me.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

      @grolit nothing is jumping at me right now. However, I would recommend scheming book titles on Amazon.com and seeing if you can spark an idea from there. That is what I did for my book as it was sparked by the book “How Starbucks Saved My Life”

  18. Redcarpetgoat

    February 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Some one is dishing out ‘tested ok’ ideas for free and some badbelle is telling us how it has not worked for someone. Mtchewww!
    ………thanks Ofili for not being selfish. ur reward will surely come!

  19. grolit

    February 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    you’ve really proven altruistic with your reply. With the likes of you, Tony Elumelu & Pat Utomi.
    I have been under the pressure accrued from applying your rule number 1 i.e telling people about it. I am a sort of perfectionist kind, so I would’nt like to fail in this.
    I think I will go far with your support. Please enlighten me more on blogging and other means I could use to exchange ideas with people of like interest and especially with you.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks for the words.

      Can you clarify your question again…are you looking to see how you can blog a book or are you looking at how you can connect with people using a blog?

    • grolit

      February 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      yea, I mean both

  20. Yenih

    February 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Thank you so much Ofili. This was just what I needed to uplift an already dwindling foundation. I’ve found myself doing some of the steps you’ve mentioned and most times will just brush it off as my crazy mind on overdrive again.
    Whether the steps might work for others or not, I just truly appreciate the fact that you took your time to dish out these brilliant tips. So THANK YOU.

  21. Omei B.

    February 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Good job Okey! Some of these steps (telling everyone, visualising, stealing inspiration, defining a theme) could even be helpful when we’re facing challenges reaching any seemingly far-fetched goal –whether it’s recording an album, starting a non-profit or running a marathon– Can’t wait to read your new book!!

    • ofilispeaks

      February 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks…can’t wait to finish it and package it =)

  22. Lanre

    February 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Cute advice, but clearly not for people who really have any business being writers. This BS logic is more for clowns who just want to see themselves on the back of a book cover, and fast. Nothing wrong with motivating those people though; to each his own.

    • Nengi

      February 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

      Thank you @Lanre. These tips aren’t really for serious writers but those who just want to get published anyhow, especially self-publishers. You can’t say you want to do some serious fiction writing and follow these steps expecting some publisher to invest into your idea.

    • ofilispeaks

      February 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      @Nengi Since you disagree so much with this article, why don’t you write an alternative way to help people write a fiction book. I know bellanaija will greatly benefit from having differing views on this. My email address is [email protected] send it to me and I will get it to the write hands to ensure it gets published.

    • ofilispeaks

      February 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      “This BS logic is more for clowns who just want to see themselves on the back of a book cover, and fast. ”
      —————————————————————————————————
      Thanks for your comment first of all…the beauty of life is that we have the right to disagree.
      However, I don’t think people that write books in this way are clowns, I won’t call Seth Godin a clown and neither will I call Hugh McLeod a clown. Seth’s book permission marketing was named “Best Business Book” by Fortune. Hugh’s book Ignore Everybody was on Amazon’s Top 10 Editor’s Picks Business Books of 2009. If that is clowning…I definitely want to be a clown.
      “Cute advice, but clearly not for people who really have any business being writers.”
      —————————————————————————————————
      The reason why a lot of books are not written is because people feel the process of writing should be cumbersome and complex. All I did with this cute article was try and simplify the writing process for people so that their words don’t get lost in the percevied but false complexity of writing a book. If it trivializes the writing process for you, then I sincerely apologize.
      Nothing wrong with motivating those people though; to each his own.
      —————————————————————————————————
      Agreed

    • ofilispeaks

      February 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      “This BS logic is more for clowns who just want to see themselves on the back of a book cover, and fast. ”
      —————————————————————————————————
      Thanks for your comment first of all…the beauty of life is that we have the right to disagree.
      However, I don’t think people that write books in this way are clowns, I won’t call Seth Godin a clown and neither will I call Hugh McLeod a clown. Seth’s book permission marketing was named “Best Business Book” by Fortune. Hugh’s book Ignore Everybody was on Amazon’s Top 10 Editor’s Picks Business Books of 2009. If that is clowning…I definitely want to be a clown.

      “Cute advice, but clearly not for people who really have any business being writers.”
      —————————————————————————————————
      The reason why a lot of books are not written is because people feel the process of writing should be cumbersome and complex. All I did with this cute article was try and simplify the writing process for people so that their words don’t get lost in the percevied but false complexity of writing a book. If it trivializes the writing process for you, then I sincerely apologize.

      “Nothing wrong with motivating those people though; to each his own.”
      —————————————————————————————————
      Agreed

  23. Busayo

    February 3, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Great article. I learnt a lot.

  24. ibinike

    February 3, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Okechukwu. I blog and hope t owrite a book one day. i wrote a chapter in my hubby’s soon-yo-be-published book though. Thanks for the tips, they are apt and on point!!!

    • ofilispeaks

      February 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Glad the article could help out =)

  25. Hugh MacLeod

    February 4, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Thanks! I think all authors “steal”…. you should check out my friend, Austin Kleon’s new book, “How To Steal Like An Artist”. Kinda makes the same point… http://austinkleon.com

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      What a great surprise and honor! Thanks for the comments Hugh and looking forward to reading your next book “Freedom Is Blogging in Your Underwear.” Stay cool…

  26. feango

    February 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks, Ofili for this piece; I’m motivated to write right now.
    I’ve got this book in me I should have written 15 years ago- A Fantastic title and a Brilliant pseudonym have been in place, now I need to put pen to paper for the 2nd chapter.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Sweet! Turn the 15 years into 15 months!

  27. Miss bonnie

    February 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Great tips, been trying to write a book since.. Foreever. I’m on my 3 rd blog and i didnt let anyone read the first two. And between my 8-5 job and personal commitments .. I never really have time to write. So thank you for sharing.

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      You are so welcome. Definitely update me on your writing progress…would love to cop a copy when it comes out.

  28. Glory Edozien

    February 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Ofili!!!! I am printing this article and pasting it on my bed post!!!!!! I intend to write at least ONE of my books this year (step 1 completed)….FAB ARTICLE!!!!!!

    • Okechukwu Ofili

      February 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Awesome! Looking forward to purchasing a signed copy =)

  29. Heriberto Fretwell

    February 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    After I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any manner you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  30. hiszpania wczasy

    February 21, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Good post. I learn one thing more difficult on completely different blogs everyday. It would at all times be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a bit one thing from their store. I’d choose to use some with the content material on my weblog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll provide you with a link in your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Milford Stancil

    February 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

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  32. temidayo

    February 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    really interesting…loved it all…now i can finally start the book, i wanted to write since 2008…
    bout Ofili!! shey u see that u have a typing error in the following paragraph….
    “NOTE: You might still bot believe, but writing is one of the least important things in writing a book.”

    luv u still…x0x

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  34. egipt wycieczki

    February 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    This really answered my downside, thank you!

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    February 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

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  37. hotele gdansk

    February 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

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  38. oge dominic

    March 7, 2012 at 3:33 am

    nice, weird and funny write up. i get the point you made in step 1 because whenever i tell my siblings that I’m writing a story, they always pester me to complete it so can they read and enjoy. i love to write, I’ve written a few short plays but right now i cant write anything because I’m lacking motivation and ideas. i wish someone could just narrate an interesting story to me, I’d gladly write a play on it. i don’t even know what to do with the few plays I’ve written; I’m tired of writing and keeping it in my archive. Anyway, i love the way you reply those who contradict you with so much diplomacy.!

  39. creamcaramel

    March 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    My mother needs to see this post! She’s been “writing books” for many years now. If only she could get started…

  40. madonna

    March 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I don’t know if this is really going to help me ‘cos I don’t think I necessarily have to follow these same steps,moreover I am a science student who barely has time for herself,my time management can’t be balanced with writing the book ‘am currently work-ng on I am just on the second chapter since last summer but at least I have time to write my poems ‘cos my phone is always at hand,which keeps me at ease.

  41. TheWellnessDr

    March 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Hi Ofili. Gr8 job. Had gr8 testimonies from two of my media guys that were at your last seminar in Lekki.
    @Madonna- dont let any belief limit you. being a science student doesn’t really stop writing as it’s not what you dont have that limits you; it’s what you have and don’t know how to use. I am a med doc, a coach and trainer and dv, I’m launching a kit containing two books and audio cd’s in april (about 3-4 weeks from now). The 1st book started 16 months ago as a mobile daily tips via blackberry while the 2nd stems from my training material in the last 12 months. Hope this helps turn that belief into an empowering one for u to go for your goal if writing is actually a vision for u. Cheers.

  42. Ifedayo

    March 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Ofili,
    I must say i really enjoyed your article. There were a lot of helpful tips. But writing books has never really been a problem for me. Been churning them out for as long as i can remember. Finding a publisher or a Literary agent has always been the biggest huddle. Frustrated i eventually self published. Sold quite a few copies but creating buzz is another big issue. My most recent is a crime political thriller based on the flawed Nigerian political system. Its titled The Divide. You can go here to check out my author spotlight
    http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/semanticdmax

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